Trayvon Martin shot, killed 1 year ago in Sanford
Updated On: Mar 28 2013 05:06:04 PM EDT
It's been one year since Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman while walking through a Sanford neighborhood and thousands are remembering Martin in vigils across the country.
On Feb. 26, 2012, Zimmerman spotted Martin walking through his neighborhood, which is a gated community.
Martin was walking back to a house he was staying at after a trip to a convenience store. Zimmerman started to follow him because he thought he looked suspicious.
Despite a police dispatcher telling him "you don't have to do that," Zimmerman got out of his truck to pursue Martin.
They got into a fight, and Martin was shot.
Zimmerman was eventually charged with second-degree murder but has pleaded not guilty. He says Martin attacked him and that he shot the teen in self-defense.
Zimmerman's trial is set for June.
Martin's family marked the one-year anniversary of his shooting death with a candlelight vigil in New York City.
Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, took part in an event Tuesday evening in Union Square Park, along with their attorneys and others. A moment of silence was held at 7:17 p.m.
At Fort Mellon Park in Sanford, organizers are calling a candlelit vigil a "Celebration of Life." At the University of Central Florida, a vigil was held at the Reflecting Pond.
The shooting set off a national outcry over issues of race as well as stand-your-ground laws.
Local 6 spoke to Sanford Police Department's new police chief, Cecil Smith, who said their biggest concern is rebuilding the trust between the community and the police department.
Smith says he will first focus on communication between residents and officers.
"They're out there talking to people, out spending time in the community," Smith said. "They're out developing those relationships, relationships that have been tarnished for years, and has eroded the level of trust."
Smith said the city will also be working closely with religious leaders in the community to help disseminate information once Zimmerman's June trial begins. Officials said seats will be reserved in the court room for religious leaders in hopes they will bring accurate information about the trial to their congregations and start positive conversations.
City Manager Norton Bonaparte said he's preparing for the crowds and emotions that will be in town once Zimmmerman's trial begins in June.
"No matter what the jury decides, there will be a reaction, a public reaction, and we are being prepared, working between Sanford PD, and Seminole County Sheriff's Office for those inevitabilities," Bonaparte said.
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